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Official Review by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Silvio O. Conte Forum is the on-campus home of the Boston College men’s and women’s basketball and hockey teams. Built perpendicular to Alumni Stadium, the building was named for Boston College alumnus and United States congressmen Silvio O. Conte.
The Boston College Eagles have been a member of the ACC since 2005, having previously played as a founding member of the Big East Conference. Varsity basketball has been played at BC since 1904. Over their history, the Eagles have qualified for the NCAA tournament 18 times, advancing as far as the Elite Eight three times (1967, 1982, 1994).
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The menu at Conte Forum does not stray too far from arena basics. There are several concession stands on either sideline of the concourse, offering hot dogs ($4.50) or Papa Gino's Pizza ($6.75). Combo meals are offered at each stand for fans looking to save a few dollars. Snacks such as pretzels ($4.00), cotton candy ($3.25), chips ($1.50), and ice cream novelties ($4.25) are also sold at these stands. Some variety is achieved through the use of a few portable carts, which sell additional items such as popcorn ($3.00), peanuts ($3.25), sausage sandwiches ($8.00), meatball subs ($8.00), and clam chowder ($5.75). Coca-Cola products are featured at Conte Forum ($3.25 for 22 ounces, $5.00 for a 32 ounce souvenir cup). Given Conte Forum's location on campus, alcohol is not available here. Prices are generally in line with other minor league venues in the area, and the quality of food served is decent.
There are souvenir stands located on either sideline which sell a good variety of Boston College memorabilia. The Eagles' mascot, Baldwin, is featured here.
The atmosphere at Conte Forum is entirely dependent on the current fortunes of the basketball team. When a marquee ACC opponent such as Duke or North Carolina visits, the building fills to capacity and the atmosphere is electric. Otherwise, Conte Forum is only half full, and the atmosphere is decidedly less exciting.
Basketball plays second fiddle to hockey among the winter sports at Boston College, and the actions of the student body reflect this fact. Students arrive late and leave early, and the student sections remain only partially filled, even for big games. The student sections do try their best to be a distraction to visiting teams, but at half-capacity, the intimidation factor is negligible.
Boston College is located in the middle of a busy residential area, and the campus is fairly self-contained. There are a few areas in Chestnut Hill where you can shop or eat, and they are all within walking distance of the campus. Your best bet is to head to Cleveland Circle, about a 15 minute walk from the BC campus, where you will find, among other places, Eagle's Deli, which has been featured on several Travel Channel shows for its massive hamburger challenges. It's no wonder that it remains a favorite of Boston College students.
Streets in this area are frequently congested and busy, so be careful navigating this neighborhood. Fans visiting the area during months when the weather is cooperating may choose to spend some time down at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. It's a favorite place for walkers or joggers, and there isn't a better spot to be in the fall or spring. From the shores of the reservoir you get a view of downtown Boston in the distance. For those fans interested in a faster paced environment, head downtown towards those tall buildings; there is more than enough going on there to keep anyone busy.
Attendance at Eagles games fluctuates wildly depending on the opponent. When a ranked opponent comes to town, the building fills to the rafters. Otherwise, the team struggles to fill the arena even halfway. Overall, Boston College averages just over 4,000 fans per game at the Conte Forum. The fans that do come to the games are loyal and enthusiastic, even when outnumbered by visiting fans.
Disappointing is the showing of the student body. Much of the student section remains empty, even during marquee matchups. The students that do show up often arrive late and leave early. While the student section does have some rituals (i.e. standing for the entirety of the action), their overall effect on the atmosphere is negligible.
The Boston College campus is located in the Chestnut Hill section of the suburb of Newton, Massachusetts, about six miles west of downtown Boston. Newton is a very well-to-do town which frequently ranks near the top of any "best place to live in America" list. Despite its location in the suburbs, the neighborhood around Boston College shares many of the same access issues as does its big-city neighbors. Anyone who has tried to navigate the crowded, crooked streets of greater Boston by car can tell you how difficult driving in and around the area can be. If you are visiting from out of town, your best bet is to find a copilot who knows their way around town.
Most native Bostonians will tell you that your best method to get to Boston College is to take public transportation, known in these parts as the "T." The green line's B train terminus is located on Commonwealth Ave., right across the street from the Chestnut Hill campus. From here, it is a short walk to all points on campus. The Green Line's C train stops at Cleveland Circle, a 15 minute walk from campus. The Green Line's D train stops at Reservoir Station, and Boston College operates free shuttle busses that pick up riders from that station, as well as several other points around town. The complete route schedule can be viewed here.
For those who insist on driving, Boston College can be reached without actually entering into the city. If driving from the north or south, take Interstate 95 (also known as Rte. 128) to exit 24 (Rte. 30-Commonwealth Avenue). Follow this road about 5 miles, and you will find the Boston College campus on your left. If driving from the west, take Interstate 90 (the Massachusetts Turnpike) to exit 17. Follow Center Street to Commonwealth Avenue, and follow that for a mile and a half to the BC campus. The area around Boston College is quite scenic, with a suburban feel, but traffic can be very heavy at times.
Once arriving on campus, there are two parking garages located a short walk from the arena (one off Beacon St., one by the main entrance to the College, off Commonwealth Ave.). Fans can enter the Conte Forum on either side of the building, with a third entrance available for students.
The seating bowl is divided into a lower level, consisting of individual seats, and an upper level, consisting of bleachers. Sight lines are excellent throughout the building. There is a single concourse that circles the building. This concourse is rather narrow, but fans will have no problem navigating it. Bathrooms are clean and large enough for your typical BC basketball crowd. Lines do form at halftime, but move in a timely manner.
Boston College utilizes variable pricing for their home games at the Conte Forum, with price levels determined by the opposition and day of the week of any particular game. Tickets are priced by level and location. Tickets to Eagle basketball games will cost you $10 (upper level corner), $15 (upper level center), or $32 (lower level) for most games, with premium games priced $40 for upper level seats and $62 for lower level seats. The prices for premium games dwarf prices for any other school in the area, but the Eagles are the biggest name by far in the area, and their membership in the ACC allows them to attract opponents that you just cannot find anywhere else this side of Connecticut.
Parking at Boston College basketball games is free of charge. I will give you a minute to take that in. Free parking. In Boston. Concessions, while not cheap, are priced similarly to other minor league venues in the area. Going to a game at Conte Forum provides local basketball fans the opportunity to see some of the country's best college basketball teams at affordable prices.
The sense of history at Conte Forum earns the venue extra points. On one end of the arena is the Varsity Club, Boston College's Hall of Fame. Take a look at the names of the honored members here and you will find familiar names from the NBA, NHL, NFL, as well as honorees from other sports in the Eagles' century plus of varsity competition.
On the other end of the arena are several trophy cases filled with championship relics from Boston College's long and storied athletic tradition in 31 different intercollegiate sports. Banners honoring Eagles teams' accomplishments in basketball and hockey hang throughout the arena, both from the rafters and along the concourse. Pictures of every BC alum to play in the NBA are featured on a display along the concourse.
There are seven luxury boxes that line the east end of Conte Forum. These luxury boxes have windows that overlook both Conte Forum and adjoining Alumni Stadium.
Basketball at Boston College plays second fiddle among winter sports to hockey, and this fact is reflected in the Conte Forum game day experience. The noise, energy, and crowd present at any game generally pales when compared to the same experience in the same building during a hockey game. Still, Conte Forum is a solid, if unspectacular, place to take in a game. For fans of big-time college basketball in the Boston area, there is no better place to see the nationally ranked ACC teams that dot the Eagles' schedule every year.
Member Review by jonah
The basketball program at Boston College has seen its share of up and down years, yet consistently seems to challenge for an NCAA tournament berth. While it hasn't been a serious contender since the Jared Dudley days, with the arrival of new coach Steve Donahue in 2010, things are looking up for the Eagles. Playing in the ACC means that a slew of top teams come to Chestnut Hill every year, resulting in some can't-miss matchups. Conte Forum, home of the Eagles since 1988, doesn't offer much beyond the typical stadium experience. If you're there for the basketball, you'll find it's just fine. But if you're looking for a unique stadium experience, there's simply not a whole lot to offer.
Member Review by Kristospherein on Jan 31, 2012
Just an average place to see a game. I would go again just to see the beautiful campus.
Member Review by sportsroadtrips on Feb 24, 2016
Great venue for hockey but man, they need to draw fans for hoops. So much history here, but it doesn't count because so little of it refers to the basketball program. The team is likely to go winless in conference play in 2016, and fans stay away in droves. Shame, because this could be a great facility with a decent crowd. Get your tix on StubHub btw, lower bowl seats for less than $10, whereas face is $30.
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